Grimes, Martha. Fadeaway Girl. Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Books. (February 7, 2012) ISBN-13: 978-0451235640. Written for adults. Litland.com recommends age 16+. 

Watch out small town America: Emma Graham is back! Having read both The Belle Ruin and its sequel, Fadeaway Girl, I can understand why its author, Martha Grimes, says it isn’t a mystery. And yet it is, since at the core of the plot is a series of related, unsolved mysteries! However, it is simultaneously a character portrait in a historical fiction setting.  Admittedly, at times in the Belle Ruin the irritating & ignorant dialogue with Delbert (the taxi driver), or Will & Mill (brother & friend) would go on longer than needed to build depth in the character. Or maybe it just seemed this to me since I was listening to the audio book version. Regardless, this is cleaned up in Fadeaway Girl. And otherwise both books are great historical fiction (and yes, mysteries too!).

 This story has lots of colorful characters richly described and whose behaviors remain consistent with their personas throughout. Wiley and cunning, we see the world through Emma’s 12 year old eyes; sometimes her view is limited while at other times, more attentive than the adults. Added to that, the adults around her are painted with sufficient depth to permit us to imagine the care and concern behind their acts of kindness to Emma, and their affection for her. Ultimately that is a hallmark of good fiction, isn’t it? That the reader, being so able to understand the many characters, can imagine them beyond the pages? It certainly is of Fadeaway Girl.

 Not a Catholic yet speaking often of the local parish priest, Fr. Freeman, Emma (with a vague belief in God but little respect for the priest) stops in the church in her moment of crisis.  The story is otherwise absent of religious references.  Given all other descriptions to set the scene and context of post-WWII small town America (Knee Hi Grape sodas, sprinkle donuts at the diner, drugstore with soda counter serving ice cream sodas, Perry Mason, Bing Crosby and others), the local church would have been part of that community culture and, so, an odd  omission to not have one of its numerous characters attending a service in one of these two stories. On the other hand, as with other Martha Grimes novels, attention is paid to new age practices in this series. In Bell Ruine and continued into Fadeaway Girl, Emma is a regular customer for tarot card readings.   

 All in all, this portrait of Americana, enlarged with a kidnapping and murder, keeps the reader in constant motion with sufficient twists, people and settings to be is very enjoyable to the end! And since the Fadeaway Girl remains a mystery, perhaps we will see a 5th Emma Graham story in the future :>)

 This is another example of a book written to adults, even though the protagonist is a 12 year old girl. It will be of interest to adult women. However, older teen girls who enjoy sharing cozy mysteries with their moms will also enjoy Belle Ruin & Fadeaway Girl. Mild profanity and use of God’s name throughout; some occult practices. Otherwise, a fairly clean story of suspense without gore, humourous reference to Emma’s not quite knowing about sex.  Litland.com recommends age 16+. Get your copy to share!

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